Bell County Judge-Executive Albey Brock testified before the United States Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday about the impact EPA regulations are having on families and the economy in eastern Kentucky.
Brock stated his position as county judge placed him on the front line and in the trenches of a battle between the rapidly growing needs in the county as unemployment explodes and shrinking budgets result from revenue decreases.
“Today, I’m here testifying not as a bystander but as an expert witness and a colleague reporting conditions from where I live and serve as county judge,” said Brock. “For the purpose of perspective, I want you to understand that the eastern Kentucky economy is more dependent upon coal than Detroit is upon the auto industry.”
Brock said eastern Kentucky has lost 7,000 coal mining jobs in less than two years. It is estimated that one coal mining job supports three and a half other jobs in the economy.
“That means that beyond the 7,000 coal mining jobs already lost, an additional 24,500 jobs in our region will be affected,” said Brock.
According to Brock, the average family size is three people. He said that means 94,500 people, which is 20 percent of the population in eastern Kentucky, have been directly impacted by coal industry job losses.
Brock said many eastern Kentuckians are leaving their homes, their communities and families to work in other parts of the country. He also said there has been a dramatic increase in childhood homelessness because families have lost their homes.
“I have witnessed them selling their life’s accumulated possessions in yard sales,” said Brock. “Their credit is being damaged beyond repair as they are forced to dependency on free lunch, food stamps and other government programs in an attempt to get through another week. I am asking you to please help stem the tide of unemployment and poverty by curtailing the EPA regulations that so drastically impact the production of Appalachian coal.”
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